On 29 March 1978, Williams, a young black man, kidnapped Linda Goldstone, a white woman, from the Northwestern Medical Center parking lot in Chicago, Illinois. Goldstone, the wife of a physician and mother of a young boy, was on her way to teach a Lamaze class when Williams approached her, gun in hand. He told her it was a robbery. She gave him her money, but Williams made her partially disrobe and get into the front seat of his car. Williams held Goldstone captive for more than two days.
At the time of his kidnapping of Goldstone, Williams was out on bail for kidnapping and rape of another woman. He drove around with her in the trunk of his car for several days, even attending a court hearing in Maywood, Illinois with her in his trunk. At the hearing, the assistant state's attorney told the judge he was not ready for trial and Williams left the courtroom a relatively free man. When he returned to the court parking lot, he saw some people who appeared to be talking to the trunk of his car. He told those people to get away and left the scene with Goldstone still in the trunk. One of those who had talked to Goldstone while she was in the trunk at the Courthouse, reported the license plate number to the police. Police did not act on the tip.
Williams spent two nights in different motels with Goldstone and later admitted that he sexually assaulted her. At around 5:00 a.m. on 1 April 1978, Williams let Goldstone go, giving her $1.25 for bus fare and telling her to get on a bus and go home. Instead, she approached a home, knocked on the door, and asked for help. The door was opened by a Chicago firefighter. Goldstone told him that she needed help. The firefighter told her that he would call the police. Then he closed the door, leaving her outside.
Meanwhile, Williams had gotten nervous, doubting whether Goldstone would keep her promise and get on a bus. He circled back around the block and saw her speaking to a man inside a house. After the firefighter had closed the door, Williams got out of his car and called to Goldstone. He led her around to a back alley where he shot her twice and left her. Some hours later, Chicago Police found Williams at his parents' home, washing out the trunk of his car.
A psychiatrist who examined Williams before trial reported that Williams suffered from "borderline personality disorder with episodic deterioration in reality testing and thought processes with episodic psychotic thinking".
At the urging of his attorneys, Williams pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping, robbery, rape, and murder. The hope of the entire team was that Hernando would escape the death penalty. The strategy did not work. The state's attorneys prosecuting the case systematically removed all blacks from the jury. In January 1980, the all-white jury sentenced Hernando Williams to death. He was executed by lethal injection on 25 March 1995 at the age of 40.
Williams was briefly married to Shirley Coleman, but they were already divorced by the time of the murder.